Maybe you’ve noticed the new look in Arizona men’s basketball jerseys. It could have been inspired by Old World ecclesiastical underdrawers, tighter at the neck and shoulders as if to cover up as much as possible.
Hanging is too good for a lot of today’s uniforms, and the Wildcats’ duds are no exception.
Why this sport has developed such a tolerance for eccentricity in dress is puzzling.
The worst thing that ever happened was the bloomer craze, influenced by Michael Jordan, who obviously liked to play in his pajamas.
It’s still in vogue, unfortunately. Jordan wasn’t the first superstar guilty of starting a silly fad.
Wilt Chamberlain was the leader of the band – sweatband gripping his noggin and rubber bands around his wrists – when he played. Kids picked up on that in a hurry, and as soon as they were old enough to pick up a ball and bounce it, they were doing the sweatband and rubber band thing.
Frankly, I think one reason the Wildcats are playing a better brand of basketball this year is the absence of sweatbands. Those things don’t soak up sweat as much as they squeeze rational thought out of heads.
Bloomers are different. I debated the subject with no less a traditionalist than Lute Olson a few years ago, and he took the side of the new fashion. He claimed to have won with this summation:
Well, the trunks kids wear today are a lot more comfortable than the bun huggers of our era.
True enough. In my day, basketball trunks came in three sizes: small, medium and don’t bend over.
But today, it’s not just the length, it’s also the upcreep. There are some major league wedgies on the hardwoods of Our Land created by these crazy, oversized trunks.
In the spirit of fairness, though, they are long enough at the hem to hide skinned knees.
Lute may be right about comfort. But as clownish as those 17th-century pantaloons worn in England during the reign of Charles II were, today’s basketball bloomers and B.V.D. jerseys are funnier.
This era will surely go down in basketball history as the age of dopey costumes.
For years the look was simple: undershirts and shorts. From there, the tailors took off on trimming and stripes and slashes, tried out belt loops and belts for the trunks and mostly settled on a combination of elastic and drawstrings to hold them around the waist.
Sadly, the new generation of players doesn’t seem to want its drawers held at the waist, preferring that they rest – barely – on players’ behinds.
Maybe they shouldn’t be looked at in this tone of voice, but those outfits are hideous.
Whatever obscure prank is being played on us, because surely the prank is there, must have the tailors and manufacturers in stitches.
Assuming the work is now done overseas, long ago outsourced to some place where the people don’t know a high-five from a hive of bees, the needle workers must wonder what in the hell folks look like who wear this stuff.
Gussied up in knee-length culottes to race back and forth on a wooden floor, to stuff a ball filled with air through netting dangling from a metal hoop, all beneath a clock that runs backward . . .
Wouldn’t you love to have been there when the sporting goods manufacturers first told those foreign seamstresses, none of whom knew what a basketball was, what they wanted and what it was for?
Of course, the people who wear these outrageous uniforms are built like skyscrapers. But that’s another story.
Many years from now, when you tell others what today’s uniforms looked like, be kind.
And remember, the athletes have to wear what they’re given in the equipment room.
But you have to wonder, where do we go from here?
It’s not inconceivable that down the road a bit, basketball will become the kind of event where one team shows up dressed in barrels and the other in chicken suits.
But the object of the game itself will always be: Mirror, mirror on the wall . . . who’s the quickest to the ball?
Corky Simpson writes a column every Saturday for the Citizen.